How to Remove Bark From Cypress Knees

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Sturdy dish brush

  • Large stock pot

  • Outdoor gas burner

  • Bricks

  • Heat-resistant gloves

  • Large tongs

  • Drill


Turn the cypress knee in the sun as it dries and tans, allowing it to dry and tan equally.


Do not allow cypress knees to get wet when they are drying. Bring them inside when there is a chance of rain.

Find cypress knees in swampy areas.

Cypress knees are often used to create handcrafted wood art, accessories and furnishings. Cypress knees, which resemble termite mounds, are growths stemming from the horizontal roots of bald cypress trees that grow in the swamps of the southeastern United States. A wood carver named Thomas Gaskins created a method of removing the outer bark of the cypress knees, which makes them smooth enough to use in art and furnishings. The process involves boiling and drying the knees, which reveals the soft texture and delicate finish of the cypress wood.

Step 1

Rinse and scrub the cypress root in clean water.

Step 2

Fill a large stock pot with water. Use a stock pot designed to hold large lobsters. Submerge the cypress knee, base end up, in the water, and set the pot on an outdoor gas burner.

Step 3

Set bricks on top of the cypress knee to hold it under the water. Cover the pot with a lid, and bring the water to a boil.

Step 4

Boil the cypress knee 30 minutes. Keep the water at a rolling boil.

Step 5

Put on heat-resistant gloves. Remove the pot lid. Remove the brick.

Step 6

Pull the cypress knee out of the water with large, sturdy tongs. If the bark has loosened, move the cypress knee to a clean surface. If the bark still looks firmly attached, continue to boil the knee. Check every five to 10 minutes to see if the bark has loosened. When it is ready, remove it from the pot, and set it on a clean, dry surface.

Step 7

Pull the bark up from the base of the knee. Slowly peel the bark away, working from the base to the tip.

Step 8

Rinse the peeled cypress knee in cold water. Drill several holes in the knee to allow air circulation, and set the knee in the sun to dry and tan. It may take about three days for the knee to dry, and it may take up to a year for the cypress knee to turn to a honey-tan color from the sun.


Audrey Pannell

Audrey Pannell has been writing since the year 2000. She has written for AOL and eHow. She holds a Bachelor of Science in public administration from the University of Texas at Dallas and also completed a certification course to obtain a teaching certificate for early childhood through fourth grade.